R.I.P. Felix Silla, Cousin Itt of The Addams Family and Twiki on Buck Rogers
Silla was one of the few surviving cast members of The Addams Family. He was 84.
Felix Silla was a fixture on classic television, though you rarely saw his face. The Italian-born actor began his showbiz career as a circus performer, coming to American in the Fifties to tour with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. His first familiar television role came in a 1963 episode of Bonanza, "Hoss and the Leprechauns," in which he played one of the "leprechauns" who encounters Hoss Cartwright (pictured above on the left).
Two years later, Silla found himself in a recurring role, as the shaggy Cousin Itt on The Addams Family. The character, hidden behind head-to-toe hair, was an original creation for the television series and not taken from Charles Addams' cartoons. The "hot and heavy" wig Silla wore was originally made of human hair, he told The Los Angeles Times in a 2014 interview — until the crew realized how highly combustible this costume was. "All the guys on the set smoked," he explained. "The producers worried that I might step on a smoldering cigarette and go up in flames. They gave me synthetic hair, which was flame-retardant."
Silla later worked in Sid and Marty Krofft productions, playing Polka Dotted Horse on H.R. Pufnstuf and Colonel Poom in Lidsville. In the late 1970s, he joined the cast of two iconic sci-fi series — Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. In the former, he went uncredited as the villain Lucifer. Most will remember him, however, as the physical performer behind the robotic Twiki on Buck Rogers. (Looney Tunes legend Mel Blanc provided the voice.) In season two, he also appeared at the blue-skinned, white-haired alien Odee-x in "Journey to Oasis."
Thanks to these roles, Silla became a comic-con regular. He also landed roles as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, as "Dink" in Spaceballs, and as aliens in everything thing from Meatballs II to Married… with Children.
On April 16, Silla died in Las Vegas, where he made his home later in life, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 84.
Following Silla's death, John Astin (Gomez) and Lisa Loring (Wednesday) are the only surviving cast members of the original Addams Family.